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"I hope that he’ll follow through on his good intentions over the winter because we want to have the best Carlos Betancur again. We know the boy has such incredible talent, it’s crazy,” Ag2r-La Mondiale manager said.

Photo: Sirotti

CARLOS ALBERTO BETANCUR

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DECATHLON AG2R LA MONDIALE

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29.10.2014 @ 17:20 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

As a difficult situation between Carlos Betancur and his Ag2r-La Mondiale team had been eventually resolved, squad manager Vincent Lavenu reflected on a future of the stunningly talented Colombian. He once again explained what prevented the 25-year old rider from living up to huge expectations this season and emphasized that they’re ready to do their utmost in order to unable him leading a life of a professional athlete.

 

Despite being visibly overweight, Betancur enjoyed a great early spring with surprise victory in the Tour Haut Var and a gutsy one in the Paris-Nice. It had been difficult not to see the 25-year old Colombian as a top favourite for perfectly suited to his characteristics Ardennes classics, but instead the Ag2r-La Mondiale captain abandoned several events like Volta a Catalunya and Vuelta al Pais Vasco citing illness. Then, he completely disappeared in Colombia and never made it back for his scheduled Tour de France debut.

 

“I learned via the press during the Tour de France that he was going to leave the team so I called his agent and he asked if there was a possibility of that happening,” Lavenu said, according to CyclingNews. “I said I was ready to discuss things but I’ve never had those discussions with him. Betancur is under contract with us until 2016.

 

“I had a good talk with Carlos during the Vuelta and it seems as though he has taken on board what we said. It seems that he has good intentions and I hope that he’ll follow through on those good intentions over the winter because we want to have the best Carlos Betancur again. We know the boy has such incredible talent, it’s crazy.”

 

Reflecting on difficult times the French squad had with their Colombian captain this year, Lavenu confessed that they were never fully informed what kind of health issues prevented Betancur from returning to Europe in June. He shared an opinion that a need to be close to his family played at least equally important role as any kind of disease he could possibly suffered from.

 

“It was very hard to get him to come back to France, and when he did come back he was a long, long way off his best shape. There was a period from April to June or July where effectively he didn’t have the behaviour of a top-level athlete,” Lavenu said. “He was ill but we never really found out what kind of illness he had. That spell of four months wasn’t a positive one.

 

The 25-year old Colombian had eventually managed to find a common language with his squad, with which he has an existing contract through 2016, and returned to Europe in time for Vuelta a Burgos. Almost four months of leading a lifestyle highly unbecoming for any professional athlete had taken their toll, though, as Betancur was visible only in the rear end of the peloton every time roads started to go upwards in the Vuelta a Espana and remaining events of the 2014 season.

 

“He does have bit of a recurring weight problem that he needs to take care of, and we’re there to help him and advise him with that,” Lavenu said. “But then again, it’s ultimately up to him to decide on the direction he wants to give his career.”

 

Aware how talented the young Colombian is, Lavanu was ready not only to give him a second chance but promised to do his utmost in order to facilitate his acclimatization on European soil. Preferably in France, though.  

 

“We’ve spoken about all of that and we’re starting over – him and us – with new intentions. He has enormous potential and we want to make the most of it – for him most of all, and for us as a team too. He needs to organise his life and behave like a champion athlete.”

 

“We’ve noticed that when Colombian riders come to Europe it can be difficult for them, especially when they come to Europe for long periods of time,” Lavenu said. “It’s not like with the Australians. When the Australians come, they come for eight months at a time in Europe and they’re ready to go to war. We’ve suggested to Carlos that he brings his family to Europe and organises his life here, because world cycling at the highest level is primarily in Europe.”

 

“He came to Europe very young, at 19 years of age, and he went to Italy, where he found a welcoming entourage, which we can understand,” Lavenu said. “Does he have to keep living in Italy? Why not live in France instead? In any case, we’re here to help him organise himself in Europe.”

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